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To Frederick D. Patterson1
May 24, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
My dear Dr. Patterson:
In reply to your confidential report on the situation in Chicago, in which you state “concerted attempts are being made to embarrass the military program in aviation which has been set up for negroes”, I have referred the matter to the C. A. A.2
The officials of the C. A. A. state that this movement is not confined solely to the airport or the airport operators, but extends beyond that and they cannot see any steps which they might take at this time to provide a solution. I am very sorry to find that the aviation development at Tuskegee is laboring under such unfortunate disadvantages. Apparently the purpose of the movement you describe is to render ineffective the Tuskegee plan in order to get an entirely different kind of training also a different location of the school. There seems to be little more that we can do other than to give you the best equipment and the best personnel possible, in order to provide the same standards of training at Tuskegee as at other training centers.3
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. Patterson had been president of the Tuskegee Institute, Tuskegee, Alabama, since 1935.
2. In December 1940 the Air Corps proposed a plan to locate a training facility for blacks at Tuskegee Institute, which already conducted a Civil Aeronautics Authority flight training program. Judge William H. Hastie, civilian aide to the secretary of war, in charge of army black relations, disagreed with the plan. He argued that interracial cooperation in the army could not be advanced by separate training stations. The northern black press and public bitterly opposed the plan and did not want blacks trained in Alabama. Arnold rejected their notion that racial prejudice would be less at other locations than at Tuskegee. In a May 20 memorandum to Marshall, he noted that northern blacks would risk the entire Tuskegee program on a chance of obtaining different circumstances and greater opportunity. (Ulysses Lee, The Employment of Negro Troops, a volume in the United States Army in World War II [Washington: GPO, 1966], pp. 116-19.)
3. On Marshall’s continuing efforts to assist the Tuskegee Institute, see Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #2-475-#2-476 [2: 525-27].
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr.(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 518-519.